Thinking of joining the cotton industry for a season? You might love it so much you want to stay!
During the busy periods of the season, particularly during harvest, the Australian cotton industry needs a part-time, mobile workforce. Timeframes vary between the regions and according to seasonal conditions. Typically, harvest runs from March to May. Another busy time for growers is when the crop is growing fast over summer.
Skilled and unskilled workers are welcome, and you experience on a farm is not always essential. For a lot of people, working during a cotton season can be the first time they’ve ever set foot on a farm!
Backpackers, students in their “gap” year, and grey nomads are just some of the groups of people who have earned a few dollars, met some great people and had a great time for a few months in the process during cotton season.
What types of people are needed?
Most of the work doesn’t require any particular skill set but hard working, practical people who are willing to learn fit best on a cotton farm. Cotton growers also find that people who have a trade (or have had one in the past) are very handy around the farm. For example mechanics, welders, truck drivers, boiler makers and electricians.
Men and women are equally welcome – and families are well catered for.
Do I need experience or training?
No. All you need is a good work ethic, the ability to learn quickly from experienced farmers, an attitude for safety and the ability to work both on your own and in a team. If you’re asked to do a job that requires training, that will be provided to you free of charge by your employer (in most cases).
What types of work would I do?
Depending on the time in the season, casual workers may be asked to do a range of jobs, including:
• Start irrigation syphons
• Drive tractors or forklifts
• Check/count bugs
• Mix and apply chemicals
• Drive a cotton picker/harvester (typically air conditioned, with CD players and GPS systems)
• Drive a boll buggy (that picks up the cotton from the picker and delivers it to the module builder)
• Operate a module builder/building modules
• General farm maintenance and repairs
• Remove/chip weeds
Okay, I’m sold. When can I start?
The best way to find casual work in the cotton industry is through one of the specialist labour hire companies that operate in cotton production areas. These include:
Some other websites used to advertise job vacancies include:
And some organisations advertise through their own websites. For example:
- Namoi Cotton
- Cotton Seed Distributors
- Cotton Grower Services
- Twynam Agricultural Group
- Southern Cotton
A guide for Working Holiday Makers
Living and working in rural Australia can be very rewarding, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Taking these simple steps to ensure you are prepared will help make yours an experience to remember.
Click here to access a practical guide for working holiday makers produced by the National Farmers' Federation, of which Cotton Australia is a member.